Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Three

The great chamber had erupted into madness. An oily-looking man in black and blue clothes had stormed in and without a word, begun attacking the frightening young man who had stolen Sonsedhor. The two men were grappling over the weapon. The Keidenelle were just watching the two of them fight, wordlessly staring. Weslyn was a little surprised they weren’t placing bets like they had with all of Roark’s fights, but then she realized that this new man must be important.

She was standing on the edge of the group of prisoners. They had been untied from each other, but their wrists were still bound. Enough of the Keidenelle were still keeping watch over them that she didn’t dare trying to untie herself.

She watched as the two men kept struggling. For one moment, the youth had the upper hand, then the oily man. It changed with every breath. Even if both men were servants of the Dark Father– she had heard the evil deity mentioned more than enough to suit her for one day– she hoped the man won. The youth frightened her. Anyone who could so quickly come up with two dozen horrific deaths as he did was someone to be feared. She didn’t want to see what he would be like if he had the power to make those torturous deaths happen.

A hand grabbed her arm and began to pull her away from the group. Looking up, she saw a Keidenelle man had hold of her and was trying to make off with her. Wishing she had managed to untie herself, she began beating at him as well as she could, kicking at him, struggling to get out of his grasp. He dragged her past a window, and all she saw outside was black. No streets, no buildings, no golden glint of the dusted and painted city. The black nothingness had reached the outer walls of the castle.

Others noticed it, too, and the prisoners and the Keidenelle broke into a panic almost all at once. People began screaming at the top of their lungs, men and women dashed for the doors– although where they were running to was anyone’s guess. She kept beating at the Keidenelle who had her. He was shouting now, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying in the din. She didn’t care; she’d heard enough of their strange language to know he wouldn’t say much she could understand.

Another hand grabbed her other arm, and she looked up into Roark’s face. Before she even had the time to sigh with relief at seeing the big man, Roark had slammed a fist into the Keidenelle’s face and knocked him to the floor. Pushing Weslyn aside, Roark dove onto the reeling savage and began pounding him with fists, over and over again, beating the man until blood spattered onto the tiled floor.

The savage didn’t stand a chance. He was half Roark’s size and was only weakly able to defend himself. It was a few moments later, when much of the crowd had cleared out of the room and their screams had faded out in the corridors, that she heard her name called.

The Keidenelle man was shouting her name. And Roark’s. He was begging Roark to stop.

Weslyn caught one of the soldier’s big arms and tried to hold him back from hitting the man again. Roark stopped long enough to recognize Draegon beneath him.

By the way he was twitching and the way he groaned and protested when Roark tried to help him to his feet, she knew there had to be a great number of bones that were broken and fractured. Draegon stay lying on the floor in a pool of blood that was slowly growing. His hair was matted with the stuff, no doubt from a crack in his head where Roark had slammed him against the floor, trying to rattle his brains. He feebly moves his arms and legs. “I think… you crushed my shoulders…” the bard muttered faintly. “And my hips.” He coughed; droplets of blood flew from his mouth, dotting his crude clothes and his face with red. His breathing came shallow and with difficulty.

“Kemeny is…… here,” he said despite Weslyn’s insistence that he not talk or try to move. There was a terrible look in his eyes, like he was seeing everything for the last time. He was already convinced he was going to die. She knew it was too late for him, that Roark’s beating had done him in as surely as a knife to the throat, but she didn’t want to believe it. If he just stops talking and stays still, he’ll live, she told herself, even as she chided herself for having false hope.

“Kemeny…… in the crowd… looking for you.” He coughed up more blood this time. His eyes wouldn’t stay open, but she could tell he was trying to keep them from closing. “With Zanthys… lordling… he tricked…” He took in a rattling breath that made his whole body tremble violently. “I love you… Wes…lyn.” His fingers twitched. “Go… get out…”

She felt the tears welling up behind her eyes as Roark grabbed her by the arm again. She stood rooted where she was, not wanting to leave Draegon while he was still alive. She could at least be with him to the end, so he wouldn’t die alone.

“Just…… go,” the bard whispered hoarsely.

Roark pulled at her arm harder, forcing her feet to move. Feeling hollow, she trailed after him, barely registering his voice saying, “I think I saw Kemeny.”

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